Ives The Essays of Montaigne/Volume 1/Chapter 25
This is one of the simplest in construction of the Essays; it is really about “pedantry.” First, Montaigne considers the character of pedants, and the esteem, or rather disesteem, in which they are held, and its causes; and the differences between the pedants of his day and the philosophers of old days. He thinks that men of learning have become contemptible because of the mistaken character of their education, and that neither masters nor scholars are more able because of learning. “We labour only to fill the memory,” he says, “and we leave the understanding and the conscience empty.” And then, with a droll little return on himself, he says that this is just what he does in this book; “it is a wonder how nicely this folly finds an example in me.” This is a most unmerited little humorous piece of self-blame! His criticism here of works that have no nourishment in them is peculiarly inapplicable to his own writings. The sentence, — a very characteristic one, — “a parrot could speak as wisely,” shows how little Montaigne could fall into any parrotry of thought or expression.
The next page is the story of a wealthy Roman who fancied himself a man of learning because he had in his pay learned men who talked for him. Such a man resembles “those whose learning resides in their costly libraries.”
Montaigne continues in the same vein, insisting that all learning is useless to us that we do not make our own, that we do not digest.
The “teachers” of his day, like the sophists in Plato’s time, were in Montaigne’s eyes “of all men those who promise to be most useful to mankind, and alone of all men they not only do not improve what is entrusted to them … but they injure it.”
On another page he tells an amusing story of one of these senseless beings whom he had seen at his own house; which leads on to a passage of beautiful, noble praise of his friend Adrianus Turnebus.
Later Montaigne gives an interesting sketch of his views of a proper Civil Service Examination — the passage beginning: “There are some of our Parliaments …”
Returning to his former train of thought, Montaigne speaks of learning as “a dangerous weapon” for those who do not know how to use it — and therefore women had better not be trusted with it.
A passage about “this purpose of enriching ourselves” sounds as if it had been written yesterday.
“The reason that I was seeking just now,” I think refers to the beginning of the Essay and to his quest for the causes of the low esteem in which men of learning were held.
Then he gets among the ancients, and dwells on the point that the Persians “taught virtue to their children as other nations do letters,” in which the Lacedæmonians resembled them; and he speaks of the difference between the education given to the children of Sparta and those of Athens, and in this connection brings Socrates forward.
The last paragraph of the Essay is on the thesis that learning lessens warlike impulses, and it is interesting from the examples taken from Montaigne’s own times.
In view of the inferences that may be drawn from the additions made to this Essay in 1595, M. Villey remarks as follows:
“It is worth observing that in 1595 the point of view of Montaigne in this Essay seems somewhat different from what it was in the text of 1580. In 1580 Montaigne was especially inspired by Seneca and by Plutarch, who both criticise only pretended knowledge; and in like manner Montaigne’s aim was to combat, as the title indicates, the pedantry of his age; and he expresses strongly his admiration for the men of true learning, for the great philosophers of antiquity. In 1595 he weakens these praises, undoubtedly with reserve, it not being his purpose to correct himself, but, none the less, in a significant manner, he borrows from Plato numerous sarcasms against the philosophers, who seem to him to lack completely practical sense; especially in the additions which close the chapter, he strongly affirms the idea that knowledge is profitable only to a small number of estimable minds, and when spread abroad among the masses, it is injurious to the moral character and to the military spirit.”
I WAS often vexed in my boyhood by seeing, in the Italian comedies, a pedant always the fool of the piece, and the title of schoolmaster had a scarcely more honourable significance among us. For being under their control and care, how could I help being sensitive about their reputation? I tried hard to excuse them by the natural disparity there is between most people and persons of unusual judgement and learning, inasmuch as these and those pursue entirely different courses. But in this I wasted my pains, for the men of widest experience were the ones who held them most in contempt; witness our worthy du Bellay: “But I detest above all things pedantic learning.” (b) And this habit is an ancient one; for Plutarch says that Greek and scholar were words of reproach and scorn among the Romans. (a) Afterward, as I grew older, I found that there was a very great reason for this, and that magis magnos clericos non sunt magis magnos sapientes. But how it can be that a mind rich in the knowledge of so many things does not thereby become more alive and more awake, and that an uncultivated and commonplace intelligence can retain, without improvement, the arguments and opinions of the most excellent minds that the world has produced, by this I am still perplexed.
(b) “To receive so many alien brains and such great and powerful ones,” said a daughter of France, the highest of our princesses, to me, speaking of some one or other, “it must be that his own brain crowds itself into a corner, cramps, and diminishes itself, to make room for the others.” (a) I should be inclined to say that, as plants are choked by too much moisture, (c) and lamps by too much oil, (a) so the action of the mind, through an excess of study and of subjects, being seized and embarrassed by so great a diversity of things, would lose the power of freeing itself, and this burden would keep it bent and cowering. But the fact is otherwise; for our mind expands the more, the more it is filled; and by the examples of old days, it may be seen, quite to the contrary, that men of competence in the handling of public matters, great captains, and eminent counsellors in state affairs, have been also very learned men.
And as to the philosophers, withdrawn from all public employment, they were, in truth, sometimes treated with contempt by the comic poets of their day, (c) their opinions and their manners making them ridiculous. Would you make them judges of the merits of a law-suit, of a man’s acts? They are quite ready for it! they are even trying to find out whether there is life; whether there is motion; whether man is different from an ox; what it is to act and to suffer; what sort of animals the laws and justice are. Do they speak of the magistrate or to him? they do so with disrespectful and discourteous freedom. Do they hear a prince praised, or a king? to them he is a mere shepherd, lazy as a shepherd, occupied with milking and shearing his flock, but much more roughly than a shepherd. Do you think some man the greater for possessing two thousand acres of land? they scoff at that, accustomed to look upon the whole world as their possession. Do you boast of your nobility because you can reckon seven wealthy ancestors? they think slightingly of you, as having no conception of the universal image of nature, and of how many forbears each of us has had — rich, poor, kings, servants, Greeks, and barbarians; and if you are the fiftieth in descent from Hercules, they deem you absurd to attach value to that gift of fortune. So the vulgar despised them as being ignorant of simple and most common things, and as presumptuous and insolent. But this Platonic description is far removed from what befits those whom we speak of.
(a) The ancient philosophers were condemned as being above common customs, as holding in contempt public doings, as having assumed a special and inimitable manner of life, conformed to certain lofty and unusual principles; but these of our day are despised as being below common customs, as incapable of public service, as leading, in the eyes of the vulgar, a life of low and vile condition. (c) Odi homines ignava opera, philosophia sententiæ. (a) As for those philosophers, say I, as they were great in learning, they were even greater in all action. And just as it was told of the geometrician of Syracuse that, when he was aroused from his contemplation to do something practical for the defence of his country, he instantly set on foot terrible engines and forces surpassing all human belief, yet, none the less, himself depised all that handiwork of his, and thought that he had thereby impaired the dignity of his art, of which his works were only, as it were, experiments; so they, when sometimes they were put to the test of action, were seen to soar on so lofty a wing that it clearly appeared that their hearts and minds must be marvellously enlarged and enriched by their understanding of things. (c) But some of them, seeing the seat of political government seized upon by incapable men, recoiled from it; and he who asked Crates how long it was necessary to study philosophy received this reply: “Until our armies are not led by donkey-drivers.” Heraclitus resigned the kingship to his brother; and when the Ephesians charged him with wasting his time playing with children in front of the temple, “Is not this better worth doing than to rule affairs of state in your companionship?” he asked. (a) Others, whose imaginations dwelt above fortune and the world, found the seats of justice, and even the thrones of kings, low and vile. (c) And Empedocles refused the kingship which the Agrigentines offered him. (a) Thales, having sometimes blamed the care taken about domestic affairs, and to get rich, was charged with talking like the fox, since he himself could not succeed therein. The desire came to him to test this, as a pastime; and having, to that end, brought down his knowledge to the service of profit and gain, he set up a commerce which in a year drew in such wealth that those most experienced in that business could scarcely in their whole lives do the like.
(c) As to what Aristotle tells us of some persons who called both this man and Anaxagoras and their like, sages and not prudent men, since they did not pay enough heed to matters of more utility, — though I do not clearly conceive this verbal distinction, — it offers no excuse for these persons; and in view of the low and necessitous lot with which they content themselves, we should rather be justified in declaring them to be neither sages nor prudent men.
(a) I leave this first reason, and think it better worth while to say that this ill-repute comes from their wretched method in their studies, and that, considering the way in which we are instructed, it is no wonder that neither scholars nor masters become more able, although they may make themselves more learned. In truth, the care and outlay of our fathers aim only at furnishing our heads with learning; concerning good judgement and virtue there is little thought. (c) Cry out to our people, of one passer-by, “Oh, the learned man!” and of another, “Oh, the excellent man!” they will not fail to turn their eyes and their respect toward the first. There should be a third exclamation: “Oh, the blockheads!” (a) We readily ask ourselves: “Does he know Greek or Latin? Does he write in verse or in prose?” but whether he has become better or more thoughtful — that is the principal thing, and that is left in the background. The enquiry should be, who is the best learned, not who is the most learned. We labour only to fill the memory, and we leave the understanding (c) and the conscience (a) empty. Just as birds go at times in quest of grain and carry it in their beaks without tasting it, to feed it to their little ones, so our pedants go about picking up learning from books and take it only in their tongues, simply to void it and make parade of it.
(c) It is a wonder how nicely this folly finds an example in me. Is it not doing the same thing that I do in the greater part of this composition? I go about, here and there, carrying away from books sentences which please me, not to keep them in mind, for I have no memory, but to transport them hither, where, to tell the truth, they are no more mine than when in their original place. We are, in my opinion, learned only through immediate knowledge, not through that of the past, as little as through that of the future. (a) But, what is worse, their pupils and their little ones are in no wise nourished and fed by it: instead, it passes from hand to hand, for the sole purpose of making a show of it, of talking of it to others, and of telling stories from it, as it were false coin, useless for any other purpose and business than as counters and for calculation. (c) Apud alios loqui didicerunt, non ipsi secum. Non est loquendum, sed gubernandum. Nature, to show that there is nothing rude in what is guided by her, causes the birth, in nations least cultivated by art, of productions of the intelligence which often vie with the most artistic productions. On my present subject, how subtle is the Gascon proverb, derived from the bag-pipe: “Bouha prou bouha, mas a remuda lous ditz qu’em” (Blow hard, blow; but we have still to move the fingers). (a) We learn to say: “Cicero so says; such is Plato’s character; these are Aristotle’s very words.” But what do we ourselves say? what is our judgement? A parrot could speak as wisely. This sort of thing reminds me of that wealthy Roman who had taken pains to find, at very great expense, men competent in all branches of knowledge, whom he kept constantly about him, so that when, among his friends, the occasion should arise to talk of one thing or another, they should come to his assistance, and should be quite ready to furnish him, this one with a speech, that one with a line of Homer — each according to his studies; and he believed this learning to be his own, because it was in the heads of his attendants; and as those also do, whose learning resides in their costly libraries. (c) I am acquainted with a man who, when I ask him what he knows, asks me for a book, that he may show me; and he would not venture to tell me that he had the itch on his rump, without first going to the lexicon, to study about the itch and about the rump.
(a) We take into our keeping the opinions and knowledge of others, and that is all; we should make them ours. We much resemble the man who, having need of fire, should go to his neighbour in search of it, and, having found a fine big blaze there, should stay to warm himself, quite forgetting to carry any home. What does it avail us to have a stomach full of food, if it does not digest, if it does not become transformed within us, if it does not increase our size and strength? Do we think that Lucullus, whom letters made and fashioned into so great a captain, without experience, regarded them as we do? (b) We allow ourselves to lean so heavily on the shoulders of others, that we enfeeble our own powers. Do I desire to arm myself against the fear of death? It is from Seneca’s storehouse. Do I desire to obtain consolation for myself or another? I borrow it from Cicero. I should have found it in myself if I had been practised in so doing. I do not like this derived and solicited competency. (a) Even if we could be learned with another’s learning, in any case we can be wise only with our own wisdom.
(c) Ex quo Ennius: Nequicquam sapere sapientem, qui ipse sibi prodesse non quiret.
(b) Si cupidus, si
Vanus et Euganea quamtumvis vilior agna.
(c) Non enim paranda nobis solum, sed fruenda sapientia est. Dionysius derided the grammarians who investigate so carefully the misfortunes of Ulysses and are ignorant of their own; the musicians who tune their flutes, but do not tune their morals; the orators who study to speak justly but not so to act.
(a) If our minds do not go a livelier pace, if we have not a sounder judgement, I would as lief that the student had passed his time playing at tennis; at least, his body would be the better for it. See him when he returns home after thus spending fifteen or sixteen years: there is nothing in the world so unfitted to be employed; all the gain you can see in him is that his Latin and Greek have made him prouder and more vain-glorious than when he left home. (c) He should bring his mind back well filled; he does bring it back only swollen; he has merely inflated it instead of fattening it. These teachers, as Plato remarks of the Sophists, who are closely akin to them, are of all men those who promise to be most useful to mankind; and alone of all men, they not only do not improve what is entrusted to them, as a carpenter does and a mason, but they injure it and exact payment for injuring it. If the rule were followed which Protagoras proposed to his disciples, that they should either pay him his own price, or should swear in the temple what value they set on the profit they had received from his teaching, and according to that should recompense his painstaking — our pedagogues would find themselves disappointed, were they referred back to the asseveration of my own experience.
(a) My Perigordian dialect very wittily calls these dullards “Lettreferits” — to whom letters have dealt a sledgehammer blow, as they say. In truth, they seem in most cases to have sunk even below common sense. For you see the peasant and the cobbler go simply and naturally about their business, talking of what they know; these men, because they would exalt themselves and bluster with the knowledge that floats on the surface of their brains, are always entangling and encumbering themselves. They let fall fine words, but that another may apply them; they are familiar with Galen, but know nothing of disease; they have gone so far as to fill their heads with laws, but none the more have they apprehended the chief point of the case; they know the theoric of every thing — find one of them who can put it in practice. I have seen, in my house, a friend of mine, in intercourse with such a man, concoct, by way of pastime, a farrago of nonsense, incoherent sentences, made up of borrowed phrases, — save that it was often interlarded with words appropriate to their discussion, — and thus keep this dunce debating for a whole day, thinking always that he was answering the arguments which were brought against him. None the less, he was a man of letters and of reputation (b) and one who had a high position.
Vos, O patritius sanguis, quos vivere par est
Occipiti cæco, posticæ occurrite sannæ.
(a) Whoever shall look closely at this class of persons, which is very widespread, will find, as I have, that, for the most part, they understand neither themselves nor others, and that, while their memory is quite full, their judgement is wholly empty, unless their nature has of itself fashioned them otherwise; as I have seen with Adrianus Turnebus, who, having no other profession but letters, in which he was, in my opinion, the greatest man who had been for a thousand years, had nevertheless nothing pedantic about him save the way he wore his gown, and something in his external manner which could never be formed into courtliness — which are mere trifles. (b) And I detest people who find it harder to put up with a gown awry than with a soul awry, and who see in a man’s salutation, in his demeanour, and in his boots, what sort of man he is. (a) For within, his was the most polite soul in the world. I have often purposely drawn him into talk far removed from his experience: he was so clear-sighted, his apprehension was so quick, his judgement so sound, that it seemed as if he had never had other occupation than war and statecraft. Those are beautiful and powerful natures —
(b) Queis arte benigna
Et meliore luto finxit præcordia Titan —
(a) which carry themselves rightly in spite of a poor education. Now it is not enough that our education should not spoil us: it must change us for the better.
There are some of our parliaments which, when they are to admit magistrates, examine them only upon their learning; others add to this a test of their understanding, giving them some case to pass judgement upon. These latter seem to me to have much the better method; and while both these qualities are necessary, and it is essential that both should exist, yet in truth that of learning is less valuable than that of judgement; the last can get along without the first, but not the first without the last. For, as that Greek verse says, —
Of what use is learning, if understanding is lacking? Would God that for the good of our judicature those companies were found as well supplied with understanding and conscience as they are even now with learning. (c) Non vitæ sed scholæ discimus. (a) Now we must not fasten learning to the mind, but incorporate it therewith; with it we must not sprinkle the mind — we must colour it; and if it does not change the mind and improve its imperfect state, surely it is much better to leave it alone; it is a dangerous weapon, which impedes and injures its master if it is in a feeble hand which does not know how to use it, (c) ut fuerit melius non didicisse. (a) Perchance this is the reason that neither we nor the church demand much learning of women, and that Francis, Duke of Brittany, son of Jean the Fifth, when they suggested to him his marriage to Isabeau of Scotland, and added that she had been brought up simply and without any instruction in letters, replied that he liked her the better for that, and that a woman knew enough when she knew how to distinguish between the shirt and the doublet of her husband.
In truth, it is not so great a marvel as it is considered, that our ancestors did not set great store by learning, and that now it is found only by accident in the chief councils of our kings; and if this purpose of enriching ourselves, — which alone is set before us to-day, — by means of jurisprudence, of medicine, of pedagogy, and even of divinity, did not keep it in credit, you would find it doubtless in as wretched plight as it ever was. Why not? if it teaches us neither to think well nor to do well? (c) Postquam docti prodierunt, boni desunt.
All other knowledge is harmful to him who has not the knowledge of goodness. But the reason I was seeking just now, would it not also come from this, that, since our studies in France have no other aim than profit, — few whom Nature has destined from birth for functions more noble than lucrative devote themselves to letters, or for but a short time (being withdrawn, before they have taken a liking for them, to a vocation which has nothing in common with books), — there are ordinarily left to apply themselves to study only persons of small means who are therein seeking a livelihood? And the minds of those persons being, both by nature and by home training and example, of the poorest quality, make a false application of the fruit of knowledge; for it is not hers to give light to that mind which has none, or to make a blind man see; it is not her business to supply him with vision, but to train his vision, to direct its steps, provided that it has well-made and strong feet and legs of its own. An excellent drug is learning, but no drug is powerful enough to keep itself from change and corruption if there are baneful qualities in the vessel that contains it. A man may have clearness of sight and not see straight; and consequently he sees the good and does not follow it, sees knowledge and makes no use of it. The chief precept of Plato, in his Republic, is to assign to its citizens their offices according to their natures. Nature can do and does every thing. The lame are ill adapted to bodily exercises, and lame minds to mental exercises; degenerate and common minds are unworthy of philosophy. When we see a man ill shod, we say it is no wonder, if he is a shoemaker; in like manner it seems to me that experience often shows to us a physician worse physicked, a divine less amended, a scholar less able, than any other. Aristo Chius had in old times grounds for saying that philosophers were harmful to their listeners, inasmuch as the greater number of minds are not adapted to profit by such instruction, which, if it does not lead to good, leads to evil: asotos ex Aristippi, acerbos ex Zenonis schola exire.
(a) In that excellent system of education which Xenophon attributes to the Persians, we find that they taught virtue to their children as other nations teach letters. (c) Plato says that, in their royal family, the oldest son was brought up thus: after birth he was given over, not to women, but to those eunuchs who had the highest reputation in the king’s household because of their virtue. They assumed the duty of making his body beautiful and sound, and after seven years they taught him to ride and to hunt. When he had reached his fourteenth year, they placed him in the hands of four men: the wisest, the most upright, the most temperate, and the bravest of the nation. The first taught him religion, the second to be always truthful, the third to make himself master of unworthy desires, the fourth to fear nothing.
(a) It is a matter worthy of very serious consideration, that, in that excellent form of government of Lycurgus, — in truth, it was a prodigy from its perfection, — although so heedful of the bringing up of children as its principal office, and in the very resting-place of the Muses, there is so little mention made of scholarship; as if those noble-minded youths, disdaining any other yoke than that of virtue, had to be supplied only with masters in valour, discretion, and justice, instead of masters in learning; (c) an example which Plato followed in his Laws.
(a) The manner of their teaching was to put questions to them of judgement of men and of actions; and if they condemned or praised this person or that act, they were required to give their reasons for what they said, and by this method they, at one and the same time, sharpened their understanding and learned the law. Astyages, in Xenophon, asks Cyrus to tell him about his last lesson. “In our school,” he says, “there was a big boy who, having a small jacket, gave it to a schoolmate who was smaller than he, and took from him his jacket, which was larger. Our master having made me the judge of the disagreement, I decided that things should be left as they were, and that both boys seemed to be better provided for by this arrangement. Whereupon he pointed out to me that I had done wrong, for I had gone no further than to consider the suitableness, and justice ought before all else to have been satisfied, which demanded that no one should be constrained about what belonged to him.” And he says that he was flogged for this, just as we are in our village [schools] for forgetting the aorist of τύπτω. A schoolmaster of to-day might harangue me at length in genere demonstrativo, before he could convince me that his system is equal to that one. They chose to shorten the way; and since learning, even when it is taken in a direct manner, can teach us only discretion, loyalty, and resolution, they chose to put their children from the beginning in the midst of facts, and to instruct them, not by hearsay, but by the test of action, shaping and moulding them vigorously, not by precepts and words alone, but chiefly by examples and works, to the end that knowledge should not be a thing lodged in the mind, but its complexion and habit; that it should not be an acquisition, but a natural endowment. Regarding this subject, some one asked Agesilaus what in his opinion children should learn. “What they must do when they are men,” he replied. It is no wonder that such an education produced results so admirable.
Men used to go to the other cities of Greece, it is said, in search of orators, painters, and musicians, but to Lacedæmon for legislators, magistrates, and generals; at Athens they learned to talk wisely, here to do wisely; there to extricate themselves from a sophistical argument and to frustrate the imposture of words craftily intertwined, here to extricate themselves from the allurements of pleasure and to frustrate with a high heart the threats of fortune and of death; there men were occupied about words, here about things; there there was continual exercising of the tongue, here continual exercising of the mind. Wherefore it is not strange that, when Antipater demanded of them fifty children as hostages, they replied, altogether contrary to what we should do, that they would rather give twice as many grown men, at so high a cost did they value the loss of the education of their country. When Agesilaus invites Xenophon to send his children to Sparta to be educated, it is not to learn rhetoric or dialectics, but to learn, so he says, the noblest art that there is, namely, the art of obedience and of command. (c) It is very amusing to see how Socrates, after his fashion, laughs at Hippias when he tells him how he has earned, chiefly in certain small hamlets in Sicily, a good sum of money by teaching, and that in Sparta he has not earned a farthing; that they are stupid folk, who can neither measure nor reckon, who make no account either of grammar or of rhythm, caring only to know the succession of their kings, the rise and fall of states, and such a jumble of idle stories. And at the end of it all, Socrates, forcing him to admit step by step the excellence of their form of public government, and the happiness and virtue of their private life, leaves him to divine, in conclusion, the uselessness of his occupation.
Examples teach us, both in the case of military concerns and in all others like them, that the study of letters more softens and weakens men’s spirits than strengthens them and fits them for the fight. The state which appears at the present time to be the most powerful in the world is that of the Turks, a people brought up to prize arms and to despise letters in equal measure. I find Rome to have been more valiant before she became learned. In our day the most warlike nations are the most rude and ignorant: the Scythians, the Parthians, Tamburlaine, are examples that prove this. When the Goths ravaged Greece, what saved all the libraries from being burned was that one of the invaders spread abroad the idea that they had better leave that sort of article untouched to their enemies, as likely to divert them from military training and absorb them in sedentary and lazy pursuits. When our King Charles the Eighth found himself master of the kingdom of Naples and of a large part of Tuscany, almost without drawing the sword from the scabbard, the noblemen of his suite ascribed this unhoped-for facility of conquest to the fact that the princes and nobles of Italy were more occupied in making themselves sharp-witted and learned, than sturdy and warlike.
- The word is used in its original signification of teacher.
- Perdois-je mon latin.
- See Plutarch, Life of Cicero.
- The greatest scholars are not the wisest men. — Proverb, found also in Rabelais, Gargantua, I, 39.
- Probably Marguerite, afterwards Queen of Navarre.
- Courbe et croupi.
- Par la liberté Comique.
- This much of the addition of 1595 is translated from the Theætetus of Plato, XXIV.
- I hate men of cowardly deeds and philosophical phrases. — Pacuvius, in Aulus Gellius, XIII, 8.
- See Plutarch, Life of Marcellus. This is a condensation of Plutarch’s description of the works executed by Archimedes; the thoughts which Montaigne ascribes to Archimedes himself, Plutarch ascribes to Plato.
- The philosophers.
- See Diogenes Laertius, Life of Crates. Montaigne evidently misread the passage.
- See Idem, Life of Heraclitus.
- See Idem, Life of Empedocles.
- See Cicero, De Divin., I, 49; Diogenes Laertius, Life of Thales.
- See Aristotle, Politics, I, 7.
- A mes gens; that is the philosophers.
- That is, the very great reason why the clericos are not magis magnos sapientes. See page 179, supra.
- Du jugement et de la vertu, peu de nouvelles.
- See Seneca, Epistle 88.
- See Seneca, Epistle 89, near the end.
- See Plutarch, How to know whether one improves in the practice of virtue.
- Mettre au vent.
- Non pour les garder, car je n’ay point de gardoires.
- They have learned to talk with others, not with themselves. — Cicero, Tusc. Disp., V, 36.
- See Plutarch, How to know whether one improves in the practice of virtue.
- The important thing is not talk, but conduct. — Seneca, Epistle 108.
- This is Montaigne’s own translation: M. Villey suggests that the meaning is: “To blow is easy enough, but we have to move the fingers to play on the bag-pipe.” — It is difficult to see the connection between this whole interpolated passage and the subject under discussion.
- See Seneca, Epistle 33.7.
- Calvisius Sabinus. See Seneca, Epistle 27.5.
- Selon son gibier.
- That is, as those also remind me.
- Lexicon. This word had not been used before Montaigne except by Ronsard; it is in no French dictionary.
- See Plutarch, On Hearing.
- See Cicero, Academic Questions, II, 1. In 1580-1588, this passage read: si grand capitaine et si advisé, sans l’essay et sans experience.
- I hate the wise man who is not wise in his own affairs. — Euripides, in Stobæus, Sermon 3. (See also Cicero, Epistulæ Familiares, XII, 15.) In 1580-1588, Montaigne supplied a French translation: Je haï, dict-il, le Sage qui n'est pas sage pour soy-mesmes.
- As to which Ennius [says]: Fruitless is wisdom to the wise man if he himself can not profit by it. — Cicero, De Off., III, 15.
- If greedy, false, and weaker than a Euganean Jamb. — Juvenal, Satires, VIII, 14.
- For wisdom should not only be acquired by us, but be enjoyed. — Cicero, De Fin., I, 1; but Montaigne probably borrowed it from Justus Lipsius, Politics, I, 10.
- For “Dionysius” read “Diogenes the Cynic.” See Diogenes Laertius, Life of Diogenes.
- Un meilleur branle.
- See Plato, Meno, XXVIII.
- See Idem, Protagoras, XVI.
- Sçavanteaux. Lettreferits = letter-stricken.
- Une belle robe.
- O you of patrician blood, whom nature has made blind to all that lies behind you, turn and face the grimaces that are made behind your back. — Persius, Satires, I, 61.
- Whose hearts the Titan fashioned with kindly art and with better clay. — Juvenal, Satires, XIV, 34.
- In 1580-1588: Et qu’elle nous amende, ou elle est vaine et inutile.
- Stobæus, Sermon 3. Montaigne translates the verse after quoting it.
- We learn, not about life, but about matters of discussion. — Seneca, Epistle 106. Montaigne took the sentence from the Politics of Justus Lipsius.
- See Seneca, Epistles 71 (near the end) and 110.
- See Idem., Epistle 36.3.
- So that it had been better not to have learned at all. — Cicero, Tusc. Disp., II, 4.
- See G. Corrozet: Les divers propos memorables des nobles et illustres hommes de la chrestienté.
- Des lettres; that is “literary learning,” so to speak. The pronouns that follow are awkward and confusing, if used in the plural.
- Nous est aujourd’hui proposée. The earlier editions read en bute for proposée; the change seems scarcely an improvement.
- Since learned men have appeared, good men are lacking. — Seneca, Epistle 95.
- That is, the reason for the low esteem in which men of learning were held. See the beginning of the Essay.
- Tel a la veue clere, qui ne l’a pas droite.
- Near the end of book III, and near the beginning of book IV.
- They go forth from the school of Aristippus debauched, from that of Zeno soured. — Cicero, De Nat. Deor., III, 31.
- See Cyropædeia, I.
- See the First Alcibiades.
- See Plutarch, Apothegms of the Lacedæmonians, and Life of Lycurgus.
- Near the beginning.
- That is, the Persians’.
- See Cyropædeia, I, 3. It was the mother of Astyages who asked Cyrus the question.
- Mon regent.
- De droit fil.
- Au propre des effets.
- Afin que ce ne fut une science en leur ame.
- See Plutarch, Apothegms of the Lacedæmonians.
- See Ibid.
- See Ibid., and Life of Agesilaus.
- See Plato, Hippias Major.
- Les fermit et aguerrit.
- Cf. infra, Book II, chap. 12: La vieille Rome me semble avoir bien porté de plus grande valeur, et pour la paix et pour la guerre, que cette Rome sçavante qui se ruyna soy-mesme.